Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Elders (Part 2) - Qualifications

This Sunday our church family will have the opportunity to re-elect six men who have been serving as Elders and elect one new Elder to a 3 year term on the Elder Board. As a result, I am taking the time to give some thoughts from Titus and First Timothy regarding the Biblical qualifications of Elders. This posting is part two. You would do well to go back and read part one, if you haven’t already, before continuing on with part two.

We saw yesterday that Paul left Titus on the island in Crete to “set things in order” in the church. One of the crucial ingredients needed to “set things in order” was for Titus to appoint Elders. In verses 6-9, Paul gives a list of qualifications regarding the type of person who is to be an Elder in the church. Paul gives a similar list to Timothy also in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. From observing both lists we see that there are numerous qualifications mentioned. Only four of these qualifications are found on both lists. As a result, we can say that neither list is all-inclusive. These are not qualifications demanding perfection nor are they characteristics only to be sought by Elders.

It is important to note that the same qualification tops both lists. Elders are to be “above reproach”. However, two different Greek words are used. In Titus it is a word meaning “to be completely blameless”. In Timothy it is a word meaning “not able to be accused”. This is the overall quality needed as an Elder. All the other qualifications are examples of what it means to be “above reproach”. Below are the specific areas where an Elder is to be “above reproach” that are mentioned in both the list to Titus and the list to Timothy:

An Elder is to be the “husband of one wife” (Titus 1:6; I Timothy 3:2). This literally means a “one woman man” or “one woman husband”. This is not teaching that the Elder is to be only married to the church as some religions have taken it. This is not simply a prohibition against polygamy nor is it a prohibition against single men being Elders. I also do not believe that this is a cut and dry prohibition against divorced men becoming Elders. If that were the intent, I believe it could have certainly been stated more clearly, like “having never been divorced”. This phrase refers to the singularity of a man’s faithfulness and commitment to the woman who is his wife.

An Elder is to be “not addicted to wine” (Titus 1:7; I Timothy 3:3). The word “addicted” means continually alongside of

An Elder is to be “not pugnacious” (Titus 1:7; I Timothy 3:3). This means he is not to be a striker or a fist-fighter and refers to physical or verbal quarreling

An Elder is to be “hospitable” (Titus 1:8; I Timothy 3:2). This is the idea of showing affection to strangers

We will see the rest of the qualifications in tomorrow’s blog posting. Be sure to read it.

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